Directed by Jamie Payne — Screenplay by Neil Cross.
The British crime drama series Luther has been on my watchlist for quite some time. Recently, with the release of Luther: The Fallen Sun on the horizon, I decided to finally check it out, and, so, I’ve spent the better part of a week binge-watching the British series that proved to be a successful star vehicle for Idris Elba whose magnetic screen presence elevated the series above lesser genre fare. I liked the series quite a bit, but, admittedly, the show started to lose me around series four, and the show didn’t hold my attention or interest as well in series four and five as it had done earlier. This did make me nervous about the film, as it was written by the series’ writer and creator and directed by the man who directed the fifth series. While The Fallen Sun is not without faults (it’s incredibly obvious what it’s trying to be), I must admit that I found it to be more arresting, gripping, and watchable than both series four and five.
Directed by Scott Cooper (Hostiles) — Screenplay by Scott Cooper.
Netflix’s first major film release of 2023 is Scott Cooper’s (very late entry into the 2022 movie year) The Pale Blue Eye. The film, which is based on a historical fiction novel of the same name from author Louis Bayard, features an incredibly well-known author, Edgar Allan Poe, as a character that is integral to the narrative, and it should go without saying that the film does not come close to becoming even a little bit as notable as the author the creatives have built a fictional mystery around. That would be a tough ask, to be honest. Still, though, this is a pretty decent crime thriller, even if it won’t end up on many best of 2022 lists.
Directed by Rian Johnson — Screenplay by Rian Johnson.
In 2019, Looper and The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson released his original ‘whodunnit’ ensemble crime mystery Knives Out. It was a huge success as it received critical acclaim and notable Golden Globe, BAFTA, and Oscar nominations. The film also helped to bring new life to the ‘whodunnit’ genre. It was so successful that this year there are several of those stories including See How They Run and the Apple-series The Afterparty. The massive success also led to a bidding war for Johnson’s Benoit Blanc-led Knives Out sequels. That bidding war was won by Netflix (they paid a whopping $469 million) and they have released its first sequel today just in time for Christmas. It brings me great joy to report that Glass Onion is almost exactly as good as the original film that preceded it, even though it no longer feels quite as fresh.
All seven episodes of Ozark: Season Four, Part One are available now on Netflix.
Nowadays, fourteen years (or so) after the release of the iconic AMC crime thriller series Breaking Bad, there have been many shows and showrunners that have tried to ape its style or tone. But I think one of the better comparisons to Breaking Bad is Netflix’s crime darling Ozark, arguably the family-centered crime series equivalent of Pepsi to Breaking Bad‘s Coca-Cola. Of course, Ozark’s cold and blue aesthetic and color-grading also fit quite well with that comparison.
Directed by Anders Ølholm & Frederik Louis Hviid — Screenplay by Anders Ølholm & Frederik Louis Hviid.
Shorta (which is apparently an Arabic word for ‘police’) is a Danish action-thriller about the so-called blue wall of silence, i.e. a tendency for police officers to withhold information and not report on their colleagues’ misconduct. The film follows two police officers — Jens (played by Simon Sears) and Mike (played by Jacob Lohmann) — who are on patrol. In the film, law enforcement has been asked not to go into the fictionalized ghetto ‘Svalegården’ since the last significant encounter between police officers and the inhabitants of Svalegården led to officers kneeling on the back of the neck of a young man, Talib Ben Hassi, who is, at the beginning of the film, in a coma. Continue reading “REVIEW: Shorta (2020)”→
The following is a review of Domino — Directed by Brian De Palma.
Brian De Palma’s Domino is a crime-thriller that takes place all over Europe. The film follows Christian Toft (played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, “Game of Thrones”), a Danish police officer, as he tries to bring a criminal to justice. After forgetting his gun at home, Christian inadvertently puts his colleague and father-figure, Lars Hansen (played by Søren Malling, “Borgen”), in harm’s way. When, due to the fact that he has misplaced his own firearm, Christian borrows Lars’ gun to investigate a domestic disturbance, Lars is killed by a handcuffed assailant (played by Eriq Ebouaney, “Femme Fatale”). When the, as of yet unidentified, assailant appears to have escaped, Christian and Alex Boe (played by Carice Van Houten, “Game of Thrones”), Lars’ heartbroken and vengeful mistress, leave Denmark to find and apprehend the man responsible for Lars’ death. Continue reading “REVIEW: Domino (2019)”→
The following is a review of Dragged Across Concrete — Directed by S. Craig Zahler.
S. Craig Zahler’s Dragged Across Concrete is a crime thriller that follows two suspended police detectives — Brett Ridgeman (played by Mel Gibson) and Anthony Lurasetti (played by Vince Vaughn) — who are both desperate for money. Ridgeman wants to relocate his family away from a neighborhood that is unsafe for his daughter, whereas Lurasetti wants to make sure he can give his girlfriend the life she deserves. When they decide to rob criminals, they eventually run into dangerous criminals, as well as Henry Johns (played by Tory Kittles) who is equally desperate for money. They may have bitten off more than they can chew. Continue reading “REVIEW: Dragged Across Concrete (2019)”→
The following is a review of The Irishman — Directed by Martin Scorsese.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Martin Scorsese would arguably be on the Mt. Rushmore of American filmmakers if such a thing existed. When Scorsese laments the supposed death of cinema or questions the artistic merit of modern blockbusters, you listen to him for the simple reason that few people know the medium, the power of cinema, or the industry as well as he does. His understanding of the power of what is within or out of the frame of cinema is indescribable. Though his detractors may suggest that he is a glorified gangster film director, nothing could be further from the truth. With The Irishman, Martin Scorsese has given us a haunting and elegiac historical epic disguised as a greatest hits gangster film that stresses that, even in the autumn of his life, the master hasn’t missed a beat. Continue reading “REVIEW: The Irishman (2019)”→
The following is a review of Hustlers — Directed by Lorene Scafaria.
Based on Jessica Pressler’s New York magazine article “The Hustlers at Scores,” writer-director Lorene Scafaria’s Hustlers tells the story of how a group of fed-up female strippers drugged and robbed Wall Street money-men when they visited their club. The film stars Constance Wu as Destiny, a woman who strips to support her grandmother and pay off her debts. When she initially struggles to find success at the club she works at, Destiny teams up with the wildly successful, knowledgeable, and experienced stripper, Ramona (played by Jennifer Lopez), a single mother who takes Destiny under her wing — or, under her fur coat, so to speak (which is a reference to one of the most memorable scenes in the film) — and shows her the ropes. When the financial crisis of the late 2000s strikes, they come up with a new risky scheme to fleece potential customers. Continue reading “REVIEW: Hustlers (2019)”→
The following is a review of In the Shadow of the Moon — Directed by Jim Mickle.
Not to be confused with the David Sington documentary of the same name, Jim Mickle’s In the Shadow of the Moon is a science-fiction crime film that follows police officer Thomas Lockhart (played by Boyd Holbrook), a father in waiting, as he tries to catch a criminal whose actions have caused several civilians to display suspicious wounds and then violently die as they bleed from their heads’ orifices. The suspected murderer is a young African-American woman (played by Cleopatra Coleman), and Lockhart eventually catches up to her on the night of the murderers.
His night ends violently as he makes her fall onto subway train tracks where she is swiftly run over by an oncoming train. When the suspected murderer returns back to life nine years after she died, Lockhart starts to entertain the thought that she was literally carried away by a moonlight shadow, to quote a 1980s hit song, to a different place, or time, entirely, which was suggested to him by an elusive scientist on the night of her first appearance. Continue reading “REVIEW: In the Shadow of the Moon (2019)”→